This is Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
Even YouTubers are dealing with millennial burnout
For YouTubers, their persona is their business. It’s simple on paper, but incredibly draining in practice. YouTubers feel constant pressure to keep giving more and more of themselves to the public. It is what feeds their egos, and also literally keeps them fed at the end of the day. When can a YouTuber truly unplug, if their entire livelihood revolves around being constantly plugged in?
That’s why when YouTuber duo the Dolan Twins announced they’re taking a much-needed break from weekly videos, they felt conflicted about making the decision, even though they knew it was for their own good.
Ethan and Grayson said they are burned out and are still processing their dad’s death earlier this year. The twins said they could not properly grieve their father because they felt they couldn’t take any time off from YouTube. They attributed this to the “fear of becoming irrelevant, or losing people that are counting on you.”
In the video, which includes a lengthy sit-down interview with fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson, the twins say they had been “coached” to maintain a name and brand for themselves since they were 14. They were encouraged to be funny, likable, and profitable. Their normal lives were sacrificed for the greater cause of “mak[ing] someone laugh,” Grayson said.
Grayson said he felt he had to sacrifice his own happiness to bring joy to others.
“Why should my happiness matter when, like, other people’s emotions are on the line more than me?” he said.
None of these quotes are surprising to me, but they all are quite sad.
Somewhere along the way, the Dolan twins learned that their personalities and hijinks were marketable to strangers. They also believed these strangers were entitled to consume them wholly, consistently, and publicly. Here an unhealthy, symbiotic relationship is formed and a star is born — well, in this case, two stars.
As we know from traditional Hollywood ecosystems, stars depend on fans, and fans depend on stars. They just can’t quit each other in this codependent relationship.
So I’m heartened to hear our new breed of young famous people say they’re willing to suspend a little of that spectacle and relevancy, and possibly some ad revenue, to gain something truly invaluable: a right to their privacy, and time and space for just themselves.
The Dolan twins now join a few other early YouTubers who’ve publicly decided to slowly retreat for their privacy. Elle Mills, the Canadian teen best known for her coming-of-age vlogs, recently described to the CBC the emotional meltdown that caused her to scale back her outputs. Michelle Phan, one of the earliest YouTubers who saw major mainstream fame from her makeup and makeover videos, told the Cut she felt she had “missed out on a lot,” even as her life became a maelstrom of jetsetting and glitzy events.
“I was at the height of the party. And that’s when you want to leave,” she said.
That is the unique kind of burnout the Dolans, Mills, Phan, and other successful young content creators are experiencing. It’s the feeling of being spent, because the cost of chasing a high meant giving all of yourself up for public consumption.
For young content creators who are currently on that grind and chase: Grind it out. Chase your checks. But save a little of yourself for just yourself, or your family, or friends. Or pages of your diary. And I’m saying this as someone who works in media. You have a right to your privacy. OK, enough inspirational TJ Maxx wall decor quotes. I’m signing off.
Wait, no, one more thing worthy of our online time: fluffy farm chickens
A few days ago, a friend sent me this Instagram account of a woman and her many fluffy chickens.
The account is @sherrys.silkies and it has a modest following of about 17K. The account is run by a woman named Sherry Mastromarino and features her farm of Silkies, a breed of chicken known for their soft, floofy plumage.
I have nothing further to say about this other than the chickens are fluffy, they’re naturally dressed like wealthy Russian women in Brighton Beach, and the account enriches my life.
Pass it on to a friend. @sherrys.silkies did not ask me to endorse this, but if you’re reading this, Sherry, I envy your life.
Until next time — Agh, OK, one last TJ Maxx inspirational wall decor quote: Choose happiness every time,
P.S. If you like this newsletter, help keep our reporting free for all. Support BuzzFeed News by becoming a member here. (Monthly memberships are available worldwide.)